where d you go Flipping Pages: Whered You Go, Bernadette?

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

My usual steadfast reading habits tend to trail off a bit during the holiday season. You know: parties, shopping, wrapping, tree-trimming, baking up a storm? But this year, I tore it up! And I’ll tell you why. I had my head stuck in some pretty awesome books! (Side Note: I do most of my reading on a Kindle. I know, I was opposed to it at first. Now, I’m completely in love with this little gadget. It fits in my purse, weighs NOTHING and goes absolutely everywhere with me. Have I sung it’s praises before? It’s possible. Jordana is hooked, too. Hardcovers feel like a workout now! All those pages that need ACTUAL TURNING! Sigh.)

So, I’ll admit up-front that I’ve been putting off reading Where’d You Go, Bernadette. One of my many, many quirks is that I turn my nose up at books that get too much hype and this book was everywhere last year. I don’t even know why I finally gave in, but I’m so glad I did. Maria Semple used to write for a ton of TV shows I’ve loved over the years, including Arrested Development, which is possibly the funniest thing I’ve ever laid eyes on. I did a bit of digging (ok, a 10-second Google search) and found she was also a writer on Beverly Hills, 90210. Boom! This lady-writer needs to adopt me so we can brush each other’s hair while eating macaroons. (The kind with coconut, not the French ones. Let’s be real.) So how bad could this book really be?! Even the cover is interesting! Why am I such a jerk sometimes? Siri, remind me to find a therapist!

Don’t read this book with Arrested Development specifically in mind, though. Yeah, it’s completely quirky. Its namesake, Bernadette, might be one of the strangest (and most lovable) characters I can think of, which I suppose relates to AD. Also, don’t look for Brenda or Dylan here. They’ve been gone for a long time. Let’s leave them in peace.

So, the book is told from the point of view of Bernadette’s teenage daughter, Bee, after Bernadette has disappeared. It’s comprised of emails, letters and her own accounts of the events leading up to and after her mother vanishes. She’s trying to put it all together to figure out what happened. Sweet, right? It’s really a book about a family whose members have lost touch with one another. Bee’s father works inhuman hours at his big-shot job with Microsoft. Bernadette spends most of her time alone in a trailer she’s placed on the outskirts of the property. She has very little contact with anyone, barely leaves the house and has gone so far as to hire a personal assistant in India to do all of her bidding remotely. The house they live in is an old school for girls, “old” being the operative word here. It’s crumbling state mirrors the state of the family that inhabits it. By the middle of the book, you find yourself rooting so hard for these people to work out whatever they need to in order to function together again. And it’s dead funny the whole way through.

Don’t be a jerk like me. Pick it up!

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